Monday, 18 June 2018
Statements by Members
O'Connor Electorate: Bushfires
During the week of 21 May, local volunteer bushfire brigades in the Great Southern region of my electorate responded to a massive 145 callouts—that's their yearly average in just one week. Two of these fires threatened lives and homes in the districts of Napier and Redmond. Together with the Hon. Mike Nahan, I was privileged to share a cuppa with some of the fire control officers: Shane Duncan of South Coast, Kevin Marin of Youngs, Sandy Lyon of King River, Mark Van Dongen of Highway, Brett Smoker of Napier, Pieter Mostert of Redmond, Graeme Poole of Kalgan and Ashley Lynch of the Elleker. I thank all brigade members for their assistance in controlling these fires and preventing the loss of life and property during this time.
Feedback from the volunteers suggests that changes could be made to improve the operation and safety of our volunteers and the community. In particular, communications infrastructure needs to be able to meet the needs of volunteers on the ground, coordinators and command. I'll be working hard to champion the need for a permanent second repeater channel for Albany, coverage in blackspots and other equipment necessary for emergency situations. Volunteer bushfire fighters are an integral part of regional communities like Albany. I also take this opportunity to thank those who work hard to maintain community safety during these incidents: Department of Fire and Emergency Services incident controller John Tillman; Mayor Dennis Wellington, CEO Andrew Sharpe, Chief Fire Control Officer Darren Prior and all of their staff and team at the City of Albany; St John Ambulance; and all the other agencies involved.